I chose this profession on purpose -- and in a moment of desperation.
I had started college as a journalism major after a successful run as editor of my high school’s newspaper (which won its first state-wide awards under my direction). I liked doing it, was successful at it and was attending a real School of Journalism at a decent university. And things were going well. I started questioning my choice as journalists were starting to be jailed (in the United States, believe it or not) for refusing to disclose their sources. I wondered if I could protect some criminal source at the cost of being ripped from my family and imprisoned for an unknown period of time. Then a visiting professor who had taught my news editing and headline writing class told me at the end of the semester that “you really have a career in this if it’s what you want to do”.
Chalk it up to being young and inspired to become a member of the fourth estate -- I had not really thought of it as a choice up to that moment. It was just the path I was on and what I (thought I) was meant to do. Sitting here in 2012 with many newspapers dead or dying and many news organizations generally in difficult times (or not really “news” organizations any more), I’m glad it was a choice (and one that I could remake).
As that young, inspired journalist I knew that I’d be called upon to write about all sorts of things and it would help if I knew something about them. Having grown up in a rural area in the 1970s, I knew almost nothing about computers so I decided to learn about programming during my freshman semester. I loved the class and finished at the top of it, ticked it off as “knowledge acquired” and moved on. Until that fateful December when I realized I needed to choose a different major. As I cast about my brief life’s experiences looking for something that I enjoyed doing and might support me (and the family I didn’t have yet), I recalled that programming class. Could I really get paid for something that just seemed fun to me? Would someone pay me to solve technical puzzles and build software? [Those sound like crazy questions now, but back before personal computers and the Internet and smart phones the answers were not as obvious.]
Thus began my journey to this moment, this Sunday morning in early 2012, with decades of solving technical puzzles and building software behind me (and hopefully many more in front of me). Knowing that my career was a choice and I made it well. Waking up most mornings wanting to go to work despite having done it until bed time the night before. Using those skills to fuel hobbies and community activities and house and feed and support my family.
Also at this moment, I find myself in Hillsboro, Oregon working at the IBM Lab in Beaverton helping develop the next version of IBM Rational Team Concert -- a tool that helps people and companies (including me, my team and IBM) build software better. Given how I feel about my career choice, I can’t imagine a better job -- building software that helps people build software (and getting to use that software myself for that purpose).
Thanks for reading this first post. Hopefully you’ll find value in the ones that follow. I expect to write a bit about software development in general and sometimes about RTC in particular. Because of my journalism background, I can chase tangents and write for hours -- doesn’t mean anyone would want to read it. So unless the topic requires deep explanation or lots of pictures, my personal post size limit is one page (and this one just breached).